Hamas sweeps Gaza elections
GAZA: Hamas swept seven out of 10 councils in first-ever Gaza Strip local elections seen as a test of strength between the Islamist group and new President Mahmoud Abbas, final results showed on Friday.
The Islamists, sworn to destroying Israel, had boycotted a January 9 presidential election won by Abbas on a platform of ending violence to allow talks with the Jewish state on Palestinian statehood.
“Hamas’s victory proves Islam is the solution,” blared a slogan from loudspeakers as thousands of supporters celebrated in the streets beneath fluttering green Hamas flags.
Abbas has been trying to win a ceasefire from Hamas and other militants spearheading a 4-year-old struggle to allow the resumption of talks with Israel and to avoid chaos in Gaza ahead of an Israeli plan to abandon the occupied territory. “Our people have a consensus on the choice of jihad and resistance and the election has underscored that concept,” Hamas spokesman Muhir al-Masri told reporters. Candidates from the Hamas list won 75 of the 118 council seats compared to 39 for members of Abbas’s Fatah movement and their allies, final figures from the electoral commission showed.
But while the results were a blow to Fatah, they also raise the prospect that Hamas will join parliamentary elections in July. reuters